We rely on your reports of any natural or wildlife related items of interest.
Please pass your reports to Iain or John. See our Contacts page for details.

Latest News

If you wish to join our club (and new members are very welcome) you can now download an application form from here. The form is in Microsoft Word format so should be readily viewable. The forms will also be available per the usual outlets.

Jock's well loved presentation "Birds of our Rivers, Hills & Moors" is now available on DVD, for the modest price of £5.00, from our local 'paper shop' (A M Grieves, Newsagents) on the High Street. If you cannot get one there, please contact John per our 'Contacts' page and we can get one to you. The running time is approximately 86 minutes and is a great historical record of the local birdlife as it was in 1973 and has some tremendous photographs. Profits go to the club funds and we are grateful to Jock for his permission to produce it (and to forego his 'cut'!).

Clicking on any image will give an enlarged version (maximum 640 x 480 pixels approximately). Higher resolution images are available on request (subject to the copyright holder's agreement) - contact John for details.

3rd May 2015
Our Coffee Morning yesterday raised a total of £1501. This will all go to good use in maintaining and improving our Dyke Farm Nature Reserve. Our thanks go to all who helped out by working on the stalls and behind the scenes in the kitchen, also to all who generously donated items for the stalls. We also thank everyone who attended and spent their hard-earned money in supporting the Wildlife Club.

18th April 2015
At a recent 'club night', Jock mentioned Tree Bumblebees and suggested we keep a look out for them. John picked up a dead one in Star Street this afternoon. Common in Europe, it was first recorded in the UK in 2001, it has been spreading steadily northwards and reached Scotland in 2013, particularly along the eastern coast areas. Still something of a rarity in our area.
(Added later). May not be such a rarity after all! In evening, a few 'bummers' working the flowering cherry in front of John's house. On closer inspection, at least two (one quite large, one small) were also Tree Bumblebees. Another, initially dismissed as just being one of our very common White-tailed Bumbles, actually turned out to be a Buff-tailed one (needs a good view to tell the differenece), not all that common but we do do see them now and then.

John also saw a male Blackcap in his garden yesterday. Jock apparently saw one earlier in the week.

Down at the reserve this morning, some 25-30 Sandmartins are flying around and exploring the holes in our Sandmartin bank.

12th April 2015
Dave Bradshaw reports Chiffchaff calling in wood above Beechgrove on Thursday and a Swallow over the Sports Barn carpark. And, on Friday, Margie saw 4 Swallows over the Beattock/Evan Water bridge.

10th April 2015
First butterfly of the year in John's garden today - a Peacock.

6th April 2915
Dave Bradshaw reports that he and Margie heard a Yellowhammer on Saturday near Station Park carpark. This is the first Yellowhammer report for many, many years! Also heard Chiffchaff in same general area.

Also on Saturday, Iain counted over 1200 Pinkfoot Geese passing northwards during his paper round. And down at the reserve, two Goosander and two Teal were on the main pond.

From Peter Ball - "thought I heard whoopers calling about 11pm last night so I got up early this morning and found a couple of them on the MDCNR Wader Scrape about 7am. One with immature plumage."

Yesterday, John had a walk round our reserve and noted almost every ditch had a few frogs in it. The big ditch had very high numbers, estimated at 40 or more over only part of it! Two more frogs seen in the Woodland Pond and half a dozen or so in the Middle Pond. Pleased to see quite a few Sticklebacks active in the big ditch again following its excavation.

31st March 2015
From John - was sitting in front of my computer when a spider came abseilling down past my nose. Grabbed the magnifying glass and chased it around the desk while noting its appearance as it was a type I'd not seen before. Got a container to hold it to try for a photo but, sure enough, in those few seconds it had escaped somewhere! However, after much browsing of spider info, I finally got the answer. It was a Steatoda bipunctata, one of the false widow spiders, commonly known as a 'rabbit hutch spider' as often found there. Apparently quite common throughout the UK yet first time I've come across one.

26th March 2015
Signs of spring! Chiffchaff heard calling down at our reserve yesterday morning.

22nd March 2015
A message from Jean (Hoppertitty):
"Thought I'd send you this pic of frogs yesterday. Counted 22 at one point in our pond - plenty of croaking and interestingly the copious spawn has been deposited in a much deeper part of the pond this year.
Saw first bumblebee of this year briefly yesterday too.
Lovely to see a bit of sunshine."
(Photo has been cropped to fit the page better!)

Frogs are also active down at the reserve now with a fair number on the Woodland Pond yesterday though none evident on the other ponds as yet.

Further on what triggers activity, a source giving lots of info about frogs and toads states that activity normally starts when the nighttime temperature reaches approximately FIVE degrees over a few nights but can be occur when THREE degrees is reached, especially when rain is expected. A further source informs us that his frog activity always seems to occur at the first full moon after the latter part of February! John's frogs seem to have retired after two weeks - night camera now showing only the odd one or two - but still no explanation on why active only at night this year, never in the daylight.

13th March 2015
A couple of recent reports for you.
The first from Ken Hines, Smith Way,Beattock
" It's been a rather unusual year with little bird activity other than the regulars, chaffinch, house sparrow and starling. However the last week to 10 days has seen a sudden influx of assorted birds, approx 30 siskins, a similar number of goldfinches, 2 reed buntings, 2 lesser redpolls and great spotted wood pecker. All this despite same food being available all winter, no idea why the sudden change."

The second is from Iain with various sightings -
Peter Ball saw and photographed a wader on the raft on the Community Reserve lochan with a group of 15 or so Oystercatchers on Tuesday 10th March. After having sent photographs to various people and myself and Garry seeing the bird on the Wednesday/Thursday it has turned out to be a female Black Tailed Godwit......which is a great sighting and to the best of my knowledge a first for the Moffat/Beattock area. Also at the Community Reserve on the Thursday were 31 Whooper Swans, 3 Mute Swans, 4 female Goosander, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant and the odd Curlew. While last Saturday on the newest dug out pond on the Meadow were a family of 6 Whooper Swans with 3 Curlew passing overhead. Michael Currie reported seeing the female Peregrine over Moffat for the first time this year today.

And from Ron Lewis-Smith on the subject of frogs -
"Regarding the latest news item about the lack of frog (and toad?) activity is most likely because of their sensitivity to temperature. Typically, at this time of the year, as soon as the night air temperature reaches around 10 degC they suddenly appear in their hoards making for their spawning ponds. I guess we haven't experienced that so far, whereas we did by this time last year."
Very informative, but temperatures in Moffat are still a long way below 10 degrees at night and John's frogs have been busy during nightime but absent in the day, quite a bit of spawn in the pond and there are still a fair few frogs active at night. Looks like there must be another explanation somewhere.

11th March 2015
Surprisingly, few reports so far of frog activity. However, the pond in John's garden has seen quite a bit over the past week or so and there is a good quantity of spawn now. Oddly, all activity has been during the hours of darkness with probably 50 or more present. My night camera shows frogs in plenty from about mid-evening to around 5.00am when they start to vanish and by full daylight there is only an occasional frog to be seen. In previous years, activity has been going on both day and night. Anyone got any idea why the change this year?

5th March 2015
(Removed, no longer relevant)

3rd March 2015
From Ron Lewis-Smith -
At last seen my first brambling this winter - in fact a tight flock of at least 200 on the ground and in large oak and beech trees on the Alton Motte, and vicinity, from c. 10-10.30 am today during flurries of snow.

This is by far the biggest sighting we have heard of this season!

24th February 2015 - A change of program for the March meeting
Our scheduled speaker has unfortunately had to cancel. However, all is not lost as Bobby Smith has stepped into the breach. Although we don't have his topic yet, it will no doubt be just as interesting as his previous presentations. See you there!

20th February 2015
Have just received two annual reports from Andy Riches. The first is for Castle Loch & Hightae LNRs 2014. The second is the County Mammal Report for 2014.
Andy adds the following comment regarding the latter -
" You will have noticed that the Roe Deer distribution map for 2014 shows a substantial reduction in distribution from that of 2013. This is almost certainly not a true reduction in distribution but a lack of records. It is crucial to remember that the maps reflect records received and there may well be areas and species that are heavily under recorded. Under recording is a particular problem with common species such as the Roe Deer or the Rabbit.
Now you know what I am looking for to include in the 2015 report! "

9th February 2015 - European Tree of the Year
We have a message from Jonathan Pinnick, one of the team that works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of the Lowes -

I am part of the small team that works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of the Lowes, home to “Lady’s Tree” which was named Scottish Tree of the Year back in October, just ahead of your Gowk Tree – another very worthy contender.
As you may be aware voting opened this week for European Tree of the Year for 2015 with “Lady’s Tree” representing Scotland. Competition between the 14 countries represented has been fierce so far and we currently trail the leading contenders by some thousands of votes.
Therefore I am writing to ask whether you would be able to encourage your members to vote in support of “Lady’s Tree”.

There is no postal vote this time, only on-line. The following link will take you to the entry page.
The entry form is on the right of the page, you may have to scroll over to see it..

6th February 2015
Latest update from Iain -
Very little to report from the start of the year. Local shooters reported seeing very few Woodcock in our area but lots of Wood Pigeon feeding on Beech mast. Very few winter birds around such as Redwing, Fieldfare, Brambling and Waxwing. A lack of Tawny Owls being heard? Anybody heard a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker? Only sightings I have are a Golden Eagle over Moffat on the 13th and a flock of 42 Brambling at Millhousebridge from Garry Tait. At the Community Reserve lochan on the 14th were 5 Mute Swan and a Pink Footed Goose. Garry saw three Black Grouse near Tweedshaws on the 16th. Hopefully the remainder of Winter and the return of Spring will bring some more wildlife sightings.
And some reports from Dave Bradshaw -
18/01/15 - 1 Brambling with Chaffinch Beattock country park, still 1 juv Mute Swan on lake with 2 Adults. They seem to have distanced themselves from it. Other 7 have left. 2 Bullfinches outside in trees by railway bridge.
21/01/15 - Leadhills road 2 female Kestrels, 1 Red Grouse.
28/01/15 - Siskin numbers are building up here in Cornal Court, usually peak late March, early April. There has been a flock of about 15 Goldfinches since before Xmas. This morning 3 Bullfinches on the trees dropping on to the grass alongside the garages to feed. Also a Treecreeper. My feeder and gardent his morning at one time had 13 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 5 House Sparrow and 8 Chaffinch. At the reserve yesterday a pair of Mute swan. 2 Dippers at Beattock bridge, 1 at Station Park bridge. 170 Pinkfeet over the co op.
And John adds - was complaining to Iain on Wednesday that hadn't heard any Tawnies for months only to hear one calling that evening! Blue Tits are scouting nest boxes and House Sparrows inspecting the spaces under roof edges around Greenwood Close so spring must be on its way.

7th January 2015
Here we are with another year and with little to report! Our usual winter visitors have been few and far between this season, a few small flocks of Redwing, likewise of Fieldfare, only an occasional sighting of Brambling and no further reports of Waxwing since November. It looks like most of us have has a distinct drop in the number of birds coming into our gardens, they must still be finding plenty of 'natural' food and prefer that to our offerings. Numbers have gone up on the few hard days we've had, only to drop off again as soon as the frosts have lifted. There is no cause for concern, the bird population is as healthy as it ever was. John's garden is renowned for the lack of birds in wet weather and last week saw a record low - Blackbird and Chaffinch only and only a few of each - offset by a more normal 6-8 types of bird in much greater numbers the following day.

Two bits of information from elsewhere. The first is from Any Riches -

"This is to let you know that Scottish Badgers will be running a Level 1 Registered Badger Worker Course in Dumfries & Galloway this autumn.
The purpose of the Registered Badger Worker Training Scheme is to build a network of surveyors certified as competent to undertake specific tasks as identified by Scottish Badgers. Inclusion on the Register is a nationally recognised qualification.
The course costs £120.00 which includes a comprehensive training manual, classroom and field-based training, personal tutoring, assessment fees and completion certificate.
Full details of the course and an application form are attached but if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me."
(We haven't been able to put the details/application form on-line but, if you contact John, we can forward it on request or put you in touch with Andy.)

The second is from Neighbourhood Watch regarding a scam -

Sky Television and Broadband Phone Scam
We've had recent reports of scammers phoning pretending to be from Sky Television and Broadband so please make sure friends and family are aware. Sky have confirmed that this is not a genuine call.
The scammers attempt to appear authentic by asking for you by name and stating that "our information" shows you pay by direct debit. The scam involves claiming that your Sky viewing card is about to expire and that they need some information in order to send you a new one. They then proceed to ask for your sort code before then asking for the last four digits of your account number. Like many scammers they may get pushy when not given this information.
This call is then followed up by a second call where they claim you have overpaid and that they wish to refund you. It is at this point that they ask for the rest of your bank details.
A Sky Spokesperson said
"We would never contact a customer to request payment over the phone for a replacement viewing card.
If you are due a credit on your account it’s very unusual for us to ask for your bank details over the phone, if you are suspicious at all please hang up and call us on 03442 414141. "
If you've received this scam call or a similar one and given over account details you should contact your bank immediately. If you received such a call and didn't give over details, it would be helpful if you could report the incident to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
The reason these scams work is that they contact thousands of people and so, purely by coincidence, a few of these people will not only have a Sky account but may have recently completed a transaction with Sky and so will be expecting such a call.
If you receive this or another suspicious phone call...
• Remember, you do not have to get into discussions over the phone with anyone, and never give out any personal information, such as bank or credit card details. These could be used fraudulently.
• Keep your business, your business. Just say "No thank you, I am not interested" and hang up straight away.
• To find out more about True Call the call blocking device tested by Trading Standards, which stops 99% of nuisance calls visit http://www.truecall.co.uk
Also remember ... No genuine lottery or competition would ask you to buy goods or send money to claim a prize!


All entries for 2014 have been archived. View by clicking here or on menu at left.